Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Vancouver and Whistler

My wife and I took a vacation to Canada this past weekend. I hectically tried to pack my road bike just before the flight, decided to bail, then packed my road gear but not my mountain gear. Of course in Whistler there were no road bikes to rent and very excellent off roading. I made the best of it.

For 3 days we were in Vancouver. We rented some hybrids and rode around Stanley Park, a nice park poking into the sea/bay/sound/whatever. Check out the rig!

Vancouver was a very cycle friendly city, at least the downtown area. Not much car traffic, most of it pretty slow, some good bike lanes - it just felt super mellow compared to riding in SF. And when you are crossing a street you know if there is a bike lane from the street signs.

We hiked this trail, it was very technical. I considered riding it later when I rented a mountain bike, but wearing my Teva's and having not gone offroad in many moons I chickened out. I think it might have actually been easier than the ski run I did come down, which started out pretty mellow but ended with a steep descent with loose rocks ending with a sharp right. Next time I'll have proper gear and try out this technical run called "Old Timber Run".

This was a slightly more "technical" run I also didn't "find time" to try out.

I did go down the ski run a few times after riding a bit with my wife. The place where we were staying was on Kadenwood Drive which the ski run and Old Timber started off of. I also therefore rode up Kadenwood 4 times for a good workout. It would be an excellent climb (and fantastic descent) on a road bike. The last time down the ski run I saw another rider coming down from another trail. It was an easy trail with a winding hairpin. He got off his bike and cut off the hairpin on foot. I couldn't figure out why he would walk this clearly easy section (while I was navigating the steep part on my own trail). I looked up and figured out why he cut the trail. You probably can't see it from the picture, but there is a brown blob just above the hairpin bend. It was a bear, and he cut off the hairpin so as to not go whizzing by!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


"This is Stephan from BeSpoke Cycles. I just talked to Seven and they said the shape your frame is in it's best to just build you a new frame. If you want the same specs they'll start it right away, if you want to tweak it, we can do that, if you want a new model they will credit you towards that".


Sunday, July 13, 2008


I got to ride the Alto Velo B ride this weekend. Living in SF it's hard to make it down for this (and I have to take Caltrain at 8 AM to Cal Ave and cut the ride off at Page Mill just to make it), but it's a great ride.

This weekend was Kings Mountain via Greer. Greer is a tougher substitute for the first third of Kings, but without cars so it's pretty nice. I struggled through this section trying to keep any of my colleagues in view. As we made the turn onto Kings I got a little wind in my legs and soldiered on. I rode past one rider who quickly slotted in behind me.

Now, at this pace I think it's less "Drafting" than just letting someone else set a pace so you don't go too slow or don't race out too fast, but whatever. I found a good rhythm that left me feeling I might just crack at any moment but knew that I probably wouldn't. That's a good intensity climb. My friend stuck close to my wheel when I sped up, and when I slowed down he refused to pass. Amusing. As we hit the steepest section with just under a mile to go I utilized the compact crank on my Ritchey (the Seven still being MIA) to try to stretch it out a bit. But lo and behold as we got to 20 yards from the top, he decided to race to the line and went by me. Cheeky!

So eventually we end up at Roberts. He sees me and the following conversation ensues.

"So you're the guy who pulled me all the way up Kings" (and I nipped you at the line)
"Yeah, well, I was about 5 seconds from falling apart the whole way up" (thanks for not coming around and taking a turn)
"Me too, I thought about pulling but I was in the same boat, you almost dropped me near the end" (what do you think, I'm stupid? If I pull you drop me. I'm the king of all wheelsuckers.)
"I'm paying for it now, not enough riding" (I'm out of shape but will now train hard for 2 weeks, come back, and drop you like a wicked stepsister).


Monday, July 7, 2008

SFBC responds to Caltrain's Draft Bicycle Master Plan

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's comments on Caltrain's Draft Bicycle Master Plan

I went to the SFBC Bikes On Board subcommittee meeting tonight. SFBC is trying to collect some data on bike usage on Caltrain in order to address perceived inaccuracies in Caltrain's data. I got a look at the data organization tonight but the data is far from broad - most of the data is from two riders who are in the committee. Please feel free to add to the data set by collecting data from your Caltrain rides.

Incident report link here

Mendocino County Line

OK, let's get back to bike riding. This weekend I had the occasion to do some bike riding near the Mendocino County Line - which by the way is a fine song by Willie Nelson. In this case I was on the Sonoma/Mendocino line near Cloverdale. Excellent stuff.

Last year I did a loop starting in Hopland Ca with my wife, we rode primarily Mountain House, 128, 253, and River Road. Mountain House Road, not to be confused with Mountain Home Road in Woodside, Ca., is an excellent cycling road. Ever since that day I wanted to go back and knit the road together with routes a little closer to home (though I will mention that riding CA-253 from Boonville to Ukiah is really really really cool. A climb followed by a descent that is in my all time top 10 descents - just steep enough, just twisty enough, butter smooth pavement).

Anyway, I left Le Tournesol in Healdsburg and headed North on West Dry Creek. I went over to Cloverdale on Dutcher Creek Road (top notch) and into Cloverdale on Asti Road. I cut east on Crocker, onto River and then *North* onto Geysers Road. (South is a wicked climb for another day). Geysers North from Cloverdale is a classic Northern California Road, along a river, slightly rolling. Good view of an interesting Railroad tunnel, and you can see 101 on a ridge above. Problem - Geysers dead ends into 101.

I rode 101 - Bike legal as it is the only road to Hopland here - all the way to "Old River Road" and into Hopland, a town that surely announces you are no longer in the Bay Area but truly in the beautiful strangeness that is Northern California. 101 was not bad here - the shoulder is great and there isn't that much annoying traffic. You just have to adjust to it.

Out of Hopland I rode Mountain House. This is a rocking road. A few miles of mostly upward rollers, then a nice tecnical descent down to the Mountain House itself, a strangely out of place estate in the middle of a valley in the middle of nowhere. From here you climb 2 or so miles to CA-128. Make sure you have water, it gets hot. I think it's 10 miles from Hopland to 128 and I saw exactly one car.

The last rise up on MH I really started to flag, but knew happily that it was mostly downhill to Cloverdale. The road is flattish for a bit, then a short quick descent, about 1/2 mile of sweet technical road, then it flattens out again. I figured I was in for a bunch of rollers all the way to Cloverdale. The next mile is very annoying, high traffic and marginal shoulders - 101 is much safer than this in reality. But then you come out to a very nice well paved descent, very technical and you can outrun most cars if you have nominal descending ability (my ability is at best nominal). This dropped me into Cloverdale at the World Famous Hamburger Ranch and Pasta Farm, where Jill and I had our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner (OK, there was dinner, but no rehearsal). I took a weenie out - I had the SC transit schedule in my pocket and took bus #60 back to Healdsburg.

The major problem was I didn't bring my camera. So instead, here is a picture of the harvest from the Peach, Plum, and Apricot trees at Le Tournesol.

Unfortunately we ended up with about 15 plums, and we fed about 200 of them to the bluejays, moles, and racoons. ^@%!$#%&^$#@!!!

Next year I will be ready with nets and be more knowledgeable about when harvest starts.

Visitor Parking

I rode over to visit someone today at another local company. I pulled to the front of the building and looked for a bike rack. No dice. Some benches, might catch some crap for locking to that. I see the Security guy on this Segway looking thing, ride over and ask him about where the bike rack is. He has no idea - "Maybe in the parking garage on the other side of campus?" This is BS.

I ask him if I can just lock to a pole, he says "I don't care". I see a very good candidate - a BS Car Centric "Visitor Parking" sign. I'll show them!

Unfortunately I was so fixated on my anarchist "Stick it to the Man" bent by locking my frame to the pole that I neglected to think about what the bushes might be doing to my tire.